Dillon to play on with Mayo
MAYO star Alan Dillon will not be retiring from inter-county football yet – and hopes 2015 will be a ‘special’ year for Mayo.
The 32 year-old Ballintubber forward was named Senior Footballer of the Year at the tenth annual Mayo News/O’Neills Club Stars on Saturday night – and told Master of Ceremonies Mike Finnerty that he would be committing to Mayo again next year.
Dillon’s announcement – made on the stage at the Knockranny House Hotel in Westport – prompted cheers and applause from the Mayo GAA faithful. And he joked that his retirement could be a long way off yet if he follows the experience of Billy Fitzpatrick, who won the Hall of Fame award on the night.
“I was listening to Billy Fitz’ there – he was 41 when he won first [Connacht medal] – I have nine years left!” said Dillon amid laughter in the crowd.
“The body and mind are good at the minute. It’s very hard to walk away from something. You see a lot of the lads – hurlers and footballers – retiring this winter. I suppose that’s something that I wasn’t gonna do … We’re close. Hopefully 2015 will be special.”
Dillon had previously indicated that he would ‘see how I feel at Christmas’ about returning for next year with Mayo, now managed by Pat Holmes and Noel Connelly.
But it was clear from his words on Saturday that he hasn’t given up on the dream of winning an All-Ireland title. Having identified taking ‘the next step’ and ‘getting over the line’ as ‘the hunger that drives me on’, the veteran forward an noted that Mayo have ‘a bunch of lads … that are really ambitious’.
Discussing the defeat to Kerry in the All-Ireland semi-final replay, the Allergan Pharmaceuticals, Westport employee said: “When you give 100 per cent for the last ten months of your life and you don’t get to the next level or to the All-Ireland final, it’s disappointing.
“We put a phenomenal effort in the past four years, and credit to James [Horan] and his back-room [team] – they were a huge influence ... And hopefully next year, we’ve new voices in the dressing room [and] we can come again.”